By Nate Odenkirk | Staff Writer
A fiercely divided Supreme Court ruled this week that judicial precedents can be overturned as late as the 192nd trimester, far past the point of constitutional viability. Justices in the majority underscored the need to make the choices that are right for them, politically. “The fact that a ruling has been repeatedly affirmed through nearly five decades of litigation should have no bearing on my decision to keep or vacate the jurisprudence today,” wrote Justice Brett Kavanaugh (R). “While I consider myself a strict textualist, when push comes to shove, all options must be on the table.”
MY DOCKET, MY CHOICE
Five of the conservative justices argued that placing “arbitrary” time limits on a judge’s right to choose places an “undue burden” on them to follow precedent. “This issue is particularly important for me,” said Justice Amy Coney Barret (R), one of three women on the court. “As a conservative, I need to have the freedom to overturn anything, at any time.” Cases conceived before the 192nd trimester—that is, every precedent since 1973—can now be reversed after a 48-hour waiting period.
The liberal justices vigorously dissented, opting to read their decision from the bench. However, it was impossible to hear their objections, as the three justices’ mics were cut years ago and have not been repaired. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberals and was happy to be included. “I’m just here to make friends,” he said, to no one in particular.
It is unclear what comes next for the nine-members of the high court. But with this difficult decision behind them, they can rollback whatever they want: voting rights, racial equality, environmental regulation, and so much more. They now have the precedent, and the time. The sky is the limit. ♦
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